The joys of purging

[Originally posted July 2010]

In purging out old paper I find I’m discovering my old life. There are papers in all that mess that I’m sorting through, I’m discovering that I did great, even though small, things. I can see how much money I earned since I left high school; am reminded of jobs that I can just vaguely remember; and, even discovered there might be a small savings account that still might be inactive somewhere.

Everyone wants to feel as if they matter, have value, and/or have made a difference. As you age and stay in the moment, you tend to forget what happened early on in life, at least that applies to me. I have read letters that I wrote to people to help them advance in school, or helped them with information vital to some point in their lives. There are even a bunch of writings from poems I thought I’d lost because they were stored on those 5 1/2″ floppy disks that I don’t think there make machines for any more.

I’m finding letters from inmates thanking me for my help in learning new computer or typing skills, or even giving references that would help them in their next facility or for a job waiting for them when they got out. It reminds me of the many types of people I worked with like thieves, murders, drug lords, hit men, transvestites, or just innocent pollos who are waiting to be shipped back to Mexico; it’s good to see that I treated them with respect so that I know that my memories weren’t skewed by believing I possessed a behavior that I really didn’t have. Evidently I treated them better than they expected and/or got in the penal system.

I have several notes from inmates who would write me when they were transferred, or when I finally left the job. One inmate’s letter just tickled me to no end so I’m going to print it here (exactly as written): “Ms. Bronson, I was going to wait until the classroom cleared yesterday to say goodbye buy yu dissappeared. So this note will have to do. Enjoy! Thank you for helping me to get started using computers. The knowledge should prove invaluable. It was alledged in court that my bank robbery notes said ‘Robbery–please don’t make me have to shoot you.’ Now I will be able to just hook up a computer to a phone modem, call up the banks computer, and send the followign message: ‘Robbery–please don’t make me have to unplug you!’ ”

This recollection of memories, added to my recent discovery of former classmates, is cathartic. It has given me a wider perspective of my life and what I have contributed to it.

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